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Landmark reforms to boost recycling and fight plastic pollution

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Landmark reforms that will boost recycling, tackle plastic pollution and reduce litter have taken a step forward as ministers from across the UK unveil the latest proposals to overhaul the waste and resources sector.  

Powers in the Government’s landmark Environment Bill could be used to make manufacturers more responsible for the packaging they produce and incentivise consumers to recycle more.  

This includes:

  • A Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers: consumers will be incentivised to take their empty drinks containers to return points hosted by retailers. Every year across the UK, consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks cans and five billion glass bottles. The scheme would cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a separate scheme already under development in Scotland. 
       
  • Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging: manufacturers will pay the full costs of managing and recycling their packaging waste, with higher fees being levied if packaging is harder to reuse or recycle. In 2019, approximately 11.7 million tonnes of packaging was placed on the UK market. We must ensure that more of this recyclable or reusable. The scheme is being developed on a UK-wide basis.

The third of the major reforms, will see the introduction of consistent recycling collections for all households and businesses in England. This will also be going out to consultation shortly.

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Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment for the Welsh Government, said:  “I am very pleased to move to the next round of our joint consultations on the preferred design of a deposit return scheme for drink containers, and extended producer responsibility for packaging waste.

“The schemes are fundamental to our efforts to decrease waste, increase recycling and tackle plastic pollution and littering. As set out in our recently published Beyond Recycling strategy, they are key commitments which support our move to a Circular Economy, as part of our aim to be a zero waste and zero carbon nation by 2050.

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“I welcome views from all stakeholders on our proposals, and look forward to hearing the views of respondents once the consultation is complete.”

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UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said:  “Through our world-leading Environment Bill we are transforming the way we deal with waste.

“Tackling plastic pollution lies at the heart of our efforts, and we have already taken steps to ban microbeads, cut supermarket sales of single-use plastic bags by 95% and prohibit the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.  

“These new changes will further ensure that more of what we consume is recycled and reused. They will stimulate the creation of alternatives to single-use plastics and establish consistent rules to help people recycle more easily across the country.” 

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Together this action will help the UK build back better and greener from the pandemic, and boost our global leadership in tackling climate change and plastic pollution, as hosts of major climate summit COP26 this year, President of the G7 and a key player in the UN Biodiversity Conference this autumn (CBD COP15).

The packaging changes are being developed on a UK-wide basis, while the Deposit Return Scheme will cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A separate scheme is already under way in Scotland, and administrations will work to ensure compatibility between the schemes. 

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Scotland’s Environment and Climate Change Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said:  “In Scotland, we are committed to transitioning towards a net zero society by 2045 and tackling our throwaway culture. 

“We have consistently led the way in building a more circular economy. We were the first in the UK to pass legislation introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for single-use drinks cans and bottles, as well as banning plastic-stemmed cotton buds.  

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“But we also have to tackle the production of materials at source. The Extended Producer Responsibility scheme will help encourage more sustainable packaging design, promote reuse and recycling, and require producers to be part of the solution to dealing with materials at the end of their life. 

“It is all part of a truly circular economy, one which presents enormous economic opportunities for Scotland and will help deliver our green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

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Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, said: “With a shocking 1.3 million items of litter on the streets in Northern Ireland at any one time – almost half of which is littered packaging including drink cans, plastic bottles, confectionery and crisp wrappers – we need to move now to tackle this problem, ”

“The consultation on a deposit return scheme builds on overwhelming public support in Northern Ireland for such an initiative, and a well-designed scheme would make it easy for consumers to return drinks containers for recycling and to reduce littering. It can also create high-value, uncontaminated recycling streams which should advantage UK producers and incentivise investment in the sector.

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“Extended Producer Responsibility would place full responsibility on producers of packaging and a shift in costs to producers of around £35 million per year – a significant saving to Northern Ireland’s public purse. Modulated fees will be designed to reward producers who use easily recycled packaging and to penalise producers who use hard-to-recycle packaging.”

(Lead image: Anna Shvets / Pexels.com)


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Environment

Cadle Heath is alive with the sound of critters

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From endangered bats to moths, beetles and unusual critters, a Swansea suburb is giving locals an opportunity to discover exactly what’s living on their doorstep.

The Cadle Heath BioBlitz event funded by the Swansea Nature Partnership on Saturday, May 14, is a day packed with scavenger hunts, guided walks, opportunities to learn about the wildflowers, bugs birds, reptiles and mammals and help to gather important nature data by recording the unusual species living in this urban heath.

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This nature reserve is one of Swansea’s best kept secrets and stretches from behind Swansea Community Farm on Carmarthen Road, to popular shopping-destination, Pontarddulais Road Retail Park.

The event, which is organised by Swansea Community Farm, South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre and Penderi Green Regeneration project, will take place between 10am and 3pm at the farm. Followed by a bat walk at 8.30pm, giving people the chance to listen for the elusive, red-listed, Lesser Horseshoe Bat in its natural habitat.

Kate McCabe from Pobl, leading on the Penderi Green Regeneration Project, said: “This is an exciting event for us. Cadle Heath is one of the best examples of urban heathland in the country and we are proud to have such a rich, exciting space for nature in the heart of Swansea’s Penderi region. The fact that the heath is home to a red-listed bat species is something we should be really proud of and something we should protect and celebrate.”

“Cadle is in such a highly populated part of Swansea that it is often overlooked, and people don’t often realise the hidden haven that exists for local wildlife. This family-friendly event will really bring the area to life, giving people a unique opportunity to really explore the area with the guidance of passionate scientists and nature experts.”

Katharine Aylett, from Swansea Community Farm, said: “We are proud to be hosting such an important and exciting event for the area, and to be partners of Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project. At Swansea Community Farm, we know the positive effect activities like this have on the community and local wildlife; it’s about raising awareness of the natural world and bringing people together, outdoors. 

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“The Penderi Green Regeneration Project itself, is vital to the area and is already having a clear impact on this part of Swansea. We’re looking forward to working with them on future events and initiatives.”

The Penderi Green Regeneration Project is an initiative to support local people in their desire to improve green spaces in their area which will help boost health and wellbeing. Through a series of physical and educational opportunities, the initiative will bring the wider neighbourhood together to regenerate green spaces in the Penderi area of Swansea.

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

For more information on the free event, visit: www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

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Environment

First Minister celebrates 10 years of the Wales Coast Path

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The First Minister will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Wales Coast Path with a visit to meet volunteers and walkers.

A year long programme of events and activities celebrating the Wales Coast Path will take place throughout 2022, including walking festivals, virtual challenges and art installations.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Wales Coast Path has established itself as a beacon of our nation’s natural beauty.

The 870 mile path guides walkers along Wales’ picturesque coastline, weaving its way past a hundred beaches and sixteen castles.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coastal path is one of the crowning glories of Wales and one of the proudest achievements of devolution.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the management of the path. Particularly the staff and volunteers, who are out in all weathers, working hard to maintain the path to such high standards.

“If I had to choose my favourite stretch of the path, the portion between Pendine and Amroth would be a candidate: starting in my own home county of Carmarthenshire, and ending in Pembrokeshire. It may not be the most well-known part of the path, but it offers huge variety: some challenging climbs, outstanding variety of flowers, secret coves and plenty of historical interest”.

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The Welsh Government will build on the successes of the first ten years so that more people are able to enjoy the path, from more backgrounds, more easily, and with more benefits for local communities, businesses and the environment.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, asked Huw Irranca-Davies, MS for Ogmore to undertake a review of the Wales Coast Path.

A small group, drawn from academia and the public, private and voluntary sectors was established to undertake the review.

The Group reflected on the key achievements over the last decade and identified how to maximise opportunities for the future.

Their report has been published on the Welsh Government website today (11 May).

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The review recognises the potential value and challenges of the Wales Coast Path. It contains 19 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider when developing its future strategic approach to the path.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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